Is it safe to turn on home air conditioners amid COVID-19 outbreak?

Air conditioners in public places being studied

DETROIT – The warm weekend had many people switching on their air conditioning for the first time -- but some were wondering if it was a good idea amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Several viewers have asked if it’s safe to turn on their home air conditioners or to open their windows. Both are safe. There is no concern about the virus coming into your house that way.

May 6, 2020 -- Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 45,054; Death toll now at 4,250

But what about air conditioning units in public places? That’s still being studied. There is one published report out of China where one diner is believed to have infected people at two other tables.

Researchers said they believe the restaurant air conditioning unit may have spread the virus farther than it would have normally traveled. They said that poor ventilation in the space also played a role.

It needs to be studied more, but it’s a good example of why increasing the space between tables and work spaces is important -- and limiting the number of people in a room is helpful too.

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The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers has created a task force to look at the issue of air conditioners. For now, the organization is recommending business owners make sure air conditioning systems are functioning properly. That they improve ventilation by bringing more outside air in, upgrading air filters, and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for social distancing and good hygiene.

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